Saudi FM Led Delegation’s Visit To Pakistan – OpEd


A high-powered Saudi delegation led by the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince bin Farhan Al Saud arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday amid the ongoing Iran- Israel tension. However, the focus of the discussion is mainly on the conclusion of multibillion-dollar investment agreements between the two sides as it is hoped by Islamabad.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif while hosting a dinner reception for the delegation expressed his hope that this visit will open new avenues of close cooperation between the two countries in coming months and further re-iterated that the visit has brought a message of hope and happiness to the people of Pakistan.

This hope and happiness seems to be derived out of speculations that the visit will result in signing of multibillion dollar investment agreements fostering real and tangible economic cooperation. This indeed gives a much needed push to economic situation in Pakistan as Saudi Arabia’s assurance to work hand in hand with Pakistan in promoting bilateral economic relations will further strengthen the bilateral partnership between two brotherly countries who have a history of mutual cooperation and investment. In wake of closer ties and a tilt towards Saudi Arabia evident in each tenure of Sharif government the bilateral agreements are no surprise. The relations are rooted in the centuries old religious, cultural and commercial links between the two.

Right after coming to the office, the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stressed on focusing on attracting Saudi investment for bankable projects in Pakistan. He further highlighted that his government’s priority would be to transform the time-tested bilateral relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia into a mutually beneficial, strategic and economic partnership. The Pakistani Premier met Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 7 April 2024, at Al-Safa Palace in Makkah Al-Mukarramah. and reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to bolstering bilateral ties and economic cooperation. During that discussion both parties affirmed their commitment to expediting the first wave of investment package worth $ 5 billion which was discussed previously. Now this two-day follow up visit seems to be the manifestation of the priority that Sharif government expect to give Saudi Arabia seeking investment in different sectors in Pakistan and continuation of the mutual understanding between the two countries.

The visit is in continuation of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a hybrid government body, setup by Pakistan last year to attract foreign investment in the country’s key economic sector. The Council was established with a specific attention being diverted towards Gulf countries where its economic interest is deeply entrenched. The SIFC has been seeking investment in sectors like energy, mines and minerals, information technology, agriculture and livestock, and industry and tourism.  Pakistan aims to attract $70 billion in investment from the Gulf countries over the next three to five years

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong trade, defense and brotherly relations. The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates, serving as the top destination for remittances for the cash-strapped South Asian country. Under the banner of the SIFC Islamabad is offering Saudi investors stakes in the multi-billion-dollar Reko Diq mine projects. Similarly, the SIFC is keen for Saudis to invest in the agricultural sector as well as other potential investment sectors to boost foreign reserves and stimulate economic growth. Pakistan requires injection of billions of dollars if it wants to meet its external liabilities and avoid repeatedly turning to international financial institutions for bailouts.

Interestingly, the Iranian president is also due in Pakistan in coming few days, now it wake of Iran-Israel tensions this visit also holds a lot of importance as Pakistan is ready to go ahead with Iran – Pakistan gas pipeline where as US in neither happy with Iran’s aggression in Middle East neither they are pleased with Iran Pakistan pipeline project. Now the Sharif Government will have to maintain a delicate balancing act between Saudi allies and Iranian neighbors to reap the benefits from both sides and to cultivate good relations with both states with impartiality

Noureen Akhtar

Noureen Akhtar s a PhD Scholar (SPIR-QAU) and has worked on various public policy issues as a Policy Consultant in National Security Division (NSD), Prime Minister's Office (PMO). Currently, she is working in Islamabad Policy Research Institution (IPRI) as a Policy Researcher/Consultant. Her work has been published in local and International publications. She can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter: @NoureenAkhtar16

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